The initial wave of upsets of the 2013 NCAA Tournament have come and passed. Most of the top teams survived, but Georgetown, Kansas State and New Mexico weren’t so lucky.
What teams have the most to worry about in their Round of 32 matchups?
Advancing to the Sweet 16 is a big step, and it isn’t a foregone conclusion for the top teams in the tournament.
We’ll take a look at a couple of squads that may pose problems over the weekend for some of the high-seeded teams.
Duke Blue Devils (2) vs. Creighton Bluejays (7)
Duke may have trouble with the relentless scoring of Creighton’s Doug McDermott. McDermott, who has a bright future in the NBA, is the type of player who can take over a game and really shine in tournaments like this.
Don’t sleep on the rest of the Bluejays, either. But McDermott’s ability to make the big shots gives the team something the Blue Devils don’t really have.
Creighton is also solid in close games—in its Round of 64 victory, the Bluejays got to the free-throw line 25 times to just nine attempts for the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Duke has the pedigree and a solid group of talented players, but it’s March, and the Bluejays might have enough to pull off the third-round shocker.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (1) vs. Wichita State (9)
The Gonzaga Bulldogs were a veritable powerhouse during the regular college basketball season. Their two losses came against No. 13 seeds (at the time) Illinois and Butler by a combined 12-point margin.
That doesn’t help explain how they barely escaped becoming the first No. 1 seed to fall to a No. 16 seed in NCAA tournament history. Southern University pushed the Zags to the brink, proving that any team, any time, is susceptible to losing.
This isn’t the NBA playoffs—or any playoffs. There is truly nothing like the do-or-die nature of the NCAA tournament.
Wichita State is next up for the Zags. The Shockers stifled and swarmed Pittsburgh, forcing 15 turnovers and getting to the foul line for 41 free-throw attempts. That grinding style of the Shockers is much like that of Southern and will again pose problems for the Zags on their path to the Final Four.
Florida Gators (3) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (11)
Florida easily walked through Northwestern State, its Round of 64 opponent, by a final 79-47 margin. The Gators' next opponents, Minnesota, will not go so quietly into the night. The Golden Gophers took care of business, decisively eliminating UCLA in their second-round matchup.
Minnesota might not be the best Big Ten team in this tournament, but it battled all season against that competition, scoring signature wins over then No. 1-ranked Indiana and then No. 18-ranked Michigan State.
The Gators are going to need to get in the paint and combat the big men of the Golden Gophers. If Minnesota can control the boards, and the paint, it will definitely make things more than interesting as it attempts to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1997.
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